I am working on NLP and also Linguistics field. I created my own toy grammar, but while browsing the literature, I came across the concept of controlled natural language. Are these two the same or different concepts?

  • This is a terminology question that I think would be better asked at Constructed Languages.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 23, 2020 at 6:23
  • 4
    @curiousdannii controlled natural language has nothing to do with conlangs. They are used in fields where mission-critical communication is important.
    – prash
    Mar 23, 2020 at 6:46
  • @prash If it's controlled it's a conlang IMO. I like elemtilas's explanation: "Wikipedia lists it as a controlled natural language, which simply means that it is a natural language whose natural form and evolution have been suspended and its new form and evolution have been created by someone." There's clearly lots of overlap between these CNLs and auxiliary languages, and to the extent that removing ambiguity is a goal, also with logical languages.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 23, 2020 at 6:59
  • @curiousdannii elemtilas explained his opinion, and I don't see a good enough reason to agree with it. Plenty of ordinary English sentences are perfectly valid sentences in many of the CNLs. All the tools and techniques of linguistics (and computational linguistics) meant for a specific general-use language are available for use as-is with a controlled version of that language. It is helpful to think of CNLs as an extreme form of a style guide.
    – prash
    Mar 23, 2020 at 7:37
  • 1
    Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 23, 2020 at 13:29

1 Answer 1


Controlled natural languages are usually designed for some real life purpose, e.g., robust and safe communication of important facts in technology and commerce. They are also often designed to be easy to translate for MT (often the now old fashioned rule based MT systems). Controlled Natural Languages have only features coming from their Natural Language parent, but those features are a subset of the features of the parent language. A Controlled Natural Language should be immediately intelligible to speakers of the parent language although they may notice some unnaturalness (e.g., lack of idiomaticity or strange idioms) in the controlled language.

On the other hand, Toy Grammars or Miniature Artificial Languages are designed for psycholinguistic experiments. They often have features that do not occur in a natural language.

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